CDM is pleased to get a full report on Estrogenesis, an
event in San Francisco highlighting women in electronic music, from its
creators, Lynda Arnold and Rena Jones. -PK

This year, we formed Digital Bliss Productions to
showcase the newest and best in electronic music and multimedia performance. Our
first annual event, Estrogenesis,
gave female digital music creators an outlet for performance and much-needed
public attention. DigitalBliss
found women who are expressing themselves in every genre of electronic-based
music and taking different approaches to drum sounds, programming, melody
writing, and acoustic instrument treatments. The women of electronic music are
truly forming their own unique sounds using the latest and greatest digital
technology.

The festival presented nine artists at a brand new night
club in San Francisco called The Blue Cube on November 13th,
2004. Playing to a full house, Blevin Blectum, Aggiflex and Suspect Seen all used laptops to
showcase their dark IDM, experimental and abstract songs. The software of
choice for the laptop producers was Ableton
Live
– the most cutting-edge live performance tool for building electronic
music sets. Aggiflex used the programming language Supercollider to come up with
new glitch noises.

DigitalBliss also showcased live electronic bands. Rena Jones, Divasonic (aka Lynda Arnold and Safar Bake), Artemis and Lila's Medicine
are combining their gifts for melody, songwriting and acoustic
instruments with their ability to produce, program and arrange
digitally. Rena produces ethno-electronic beats and soundscapes and
performs on vocals, cello and violin with her two percussionists.
Divasonic performs her eclectic house and downtempo on piano, flute,
vocals and effects with co-producer, Safar, on all hardware (Roland 505
and 808, Clavia Nord) and recreates her songs live by re-programming
parts from studio sessions. Artemis performs her symphonic trip-hop
with a full band, extracting all the parts out of the studio sessions
and putting the responsibility on the string, percussion and keyboard
players while using Logic, Absynth and FM7. Lila's Medicine uses Ableton Live to play sequenced tracks and effect vocals in real-time while Laura
showcases her unique voice and solid keyboard playing. We're focusing
on the technical, but the music itself is fresh, tasteful and
represents the future of electronic music.

Estrogenesis
had incredible support from the electronic music community, with a big turnout
and support from sponsors Ableton, Propellerhead, Native Instruments, Digidesign, Baffert's
Gin
and Ex'pression College for the
Digital Arts
. Colleagues, friends and family of DigitalBliss created an
ultra-hip, supportive atmosphere. Live video projections and visual art on both
floors from some of the best women visual artists in the community at the
moment added the icing on the cake.

It's obvious that more ‘intelligent' women need to be
brought into the limelight in the music industry. When it comes to electronic
music and digital technology, support from a broader community is crucial. Women
producers get excited by the latest new software, hardware, sounds,
cutting-edge albums and are obsessed computer nerds, spending hours in front of
the computer to come up with their own creations. DigitalBliss' mission for Estrogenesis is to create a
larger awareness for women in the electronic music community.

DIGITAL BLISS CHATS WITH CDM

PK: Electronic music projects this image of being
male-dominated. Obviously, you have a festival that demonstrates
otherwise, but why do you think people
get that impression? Do the guys still outnumber women?

Yes, guys do outnumber women when it comes to technology in general.
It's an age-old question that I think really needs to be looked at on a
larger social scale than just the music industry. However the tides are
turning and with newer technology, electronic music has become more
accessible to the average person, and in turn many women have gotten
their chance to stake a claim in music on a more in-depth level.

PK: What do you think are obstacles to women getting involved with electronic music, and getting recognition?

I think with all people first getting into electronic music there is
a huge learning curve that scares a lot of people away or keeps them at
a level of being just a hobbyist.
I am not sure if there any more obstacles for women then there are for
men except that most men have other male friends to geek out with where
there is not that kind of community support for most women.
Traditionally women often are singers and don't have the desire to dive
further into technology. Estrogenesis showcased women who not only were
writing electronic music but also sing, play instruments and are
constantly honing their craft on many levels.

Where do you see this area going in the future? How would you
like to see electronic music change, in terms of the technology? The
community?

As more and more software is being made to make it easier and more
accessible, we feel there will be a huge shift in the demographics of
people making electronic music. Not only women but also people of color
and different ethnicities will be involved on a greater scale.

We find this very exciting because we feel there will be a greater
diversity of styles of electronic music. We do feel that promoters need
to embrace live electronic music though and not focus on just DJ's.
Many live electronic acts can dish out the same energy as a DJ and keep
people shaking all night long.

That sounds like another topic for us to cover — the DJ-musician
gap. You're both presenters as well as musicians. Did doing this
festival have an impact on you artistically in your own work?

Luckily, we both planned for months to make this event run as
smoothly as possible. We both felt that if we were going to do
something like this, we wanted to do it properly. Most live electronic
acts are shoved in a DJ booth with an RCA cable to hook their piles of
gear into the system. Lynda and I spent months finding the right sound
engineers and our lovely stage manager Joni. Between the five sound
engineers, stage manager and a crew of about 20 people helping we were
more than relaxed to do our performance and were able to slip into a
great set. A large goal for DigitalBliss is to also create a larger
community support for live electronic music. Often many events put
incredible talent in the worst sound nightmare you can imagine, no
monitors, feedback hell and it goes on and on. The Bay Area is a
thriving electronic music community with hundreds of producers making
electronic music in every genre imaginable but no real good place for
them to showcase themselves at their best. We hope that we can make an
impact on the music scene in a positive way and create community not
only between women but join all the hundreds of producers to join
together and push the limits of what can be done with electronic music.

Great, thanks to both of you! This is really inspiring to me both
as someone who teaches music and produces events, certainly, and
readers out there who want to comment on any of these issues, please do
as we'll keep this discussion going! Hope to see you all in San
Francisco! -Peter

  • Guest

    Why didn't you include Suzanne Ciani? She *INVENTED* new age electronic music.

  • Guest

    I think it's great that women are nerding out with us men in electronic music. I can see how they can be very intimidated by strange music software that they have really never delt with. Like anything it takes time and there is a learning curve, but they'll get it..this is proof. Something about women in electronic music is a turn on! I think it's great when a couple can perform live in some experimental show and make some noize etc. That must be a great feeling!!!

    phoen+ http://phoenelai.livetechno.net/
    phoenelai@lycos.com http://www.2063music.de

  • admin

    I don't think this was intended to be all-inclusive; it was just a collection of musicians the producers wanted to showcase, and there's nothing wrong with that.

    But yes, many women nerding out! And they're out there doing production and performance, too, in many, many venues beyond this one; hopefully a 'female-specific' event can help draw attention to the growing diversity of the crowd.

  • Guest

    good stuff! I think the 2 'Female of the Species' albums compiled by Kingsuk Biswas for Law&Auder was the first real step in this direction a few years back. Theres been a growing movement of female experimental electronica and idm for a decade or so. great to see the Female of the Species compilations on itunes now. lets hope there's some more like it.

  • Guest

    Wait a minute, there are humans involved with this stuff? All this time I thought Autechre was just a really slick Perl script. Damn. :eek

  • admin

    Stay tuned for more coverage of music created by robots bent on destroying the Earth. 8)

  • Guest

    Is Wendy Carlos invited? :grin

  • xaiya

    "I can see how they can be very intimidated by strange music software that they have really never delt with."

    …..that is quite a generalisation you make there…who said we have never really delt with it?